Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays still seeking bench, bullpen help

Veteran slugger Mark Reynolds could provide a versatile right-handed bat off the bench.

Getty Images

Veteran slugger Mark Reynolds could provide a versatile right-handed bat off the bench.

The Rays actually have had a busy offseason, what with three major-league free agent additions (C Wilson Ramos, OF Colby Rasmus, RHP Shawn Tolleson), four trades, several waiver claims and the usual assortment of minor-league deals.

But even though it's mid January and there look to be 14 new faces on the 40-man roster, they are likely not done.

With prices dropping on dozens of free agents still on a market that was stalled until resolution of the CBA, the Rays are in position to add another veteran or two to a squad currently costing around $65 million.

One logical target would be a proven right-handed hitter, preferably to play first and elsewhere, though potentially at the bench spot of Tim Beckham (unless he learns the outfield) or Nick Franklin. While not in on Mike Napoli, they could find that fit in Mark Reynolds, who can play several positions. Much less versatile, though with more power, is Chris Carter.

Or they could add an outfielder, which could put a squeeze on newly acquired, though optionable, Mallex Smith or perhaps Steven Souza Jr. Austin Jackson, Franklin Gutierrez and Peter Bourjos are among those still available.

Another area that could use help is the bullpen, even with the addition of Tolleson, whose deal along with Rasmus' will be completed this week. Though they seem to have more of a need for a lefty (a J.P. Howell reunion?), there are more righty options, with Sergio Romo among the most intriguing along with the likes of Fernando Salas, Joe Smith and Tom Wilhelmsen. A deal with veteran Greg Holland is unlikely.

Other teams are looking for pieces, too, so there's still the possibility the Rays will get one of those too-good-to-pass-up offers for a key piece, such as 2B Logan Forsythe or a pitcher.

DRAFT BREEZE: With last week's dumping of OF Mikie Mahtook to Detroit, the Rays have even less to show from their 2011 draft haul, when they had 10 of the top 60 picks. Only LHP Blake Snell, Mahtook and OF Tyler Goeddel (as a Rule 5 pick by the Phillies) have reached the majors yet. INF Brandon Martin and OFs Kes Carter and James Harris were released; INF Jake Hager and pitchers Jeff Ames, Grayson Garvin and Taylor Guerrieri have had injury issues of various degree.

BIG SURPRISE: Despite the additions of Rasmus, Smith and waiver claim Jason Coats, Mahtook said he had no inkling he would be traded.

"I wasn't anticipating anything," he said, "I was just going about my offseason like I normally do, getting ready for spring training. Then I got the phone call. And then it got really weird."

Mahtook said he remains appreciative of the opportunity the Rays gave him. While disappointed in his play, he said he leaves with no regrets and is excited by the chance to win the Tigers' centerfield job.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Stadium conversations remain ongoing on both sides of the bay, with a target of resolution, in some form, by August. … ESPN's Keith Law dropped the Rays five spots to 19th in his annual ranking of farm systems, citing a step back by some pitchers but noting progress by high-ceiling hitters. … Amid Hall of Fame talk, who is likely to be the first — or next, if you count Wade Boggs — inductee with a significant Rays career? Evan Longoria? David Price? It might be ex-manager Joe Maddon. … Despite winning back-to-back Gold Gloves, Kevin Kiermaier was ranked only ninth on Buster Olney's ESPN list of top centerfielders, behind Mike Trout, Jackie Bradley, Christian Yelich, A.J. Pollock, Andrew McCutchen, Adam Eaton, Dexter Fowler and Charlie Blackmon. Longoria was sixth at third base. … MLB Network's rankings show had Forsythe ninth at second base and Longoria 10th at third. … Expect single-game ticket sales to launch in early to mid February; Fan Fest is Feb. 4. … Former Ray Toby Hall's annual charity golf tourney, featuring numerous big-leaguers and benefitting programs for kids with disabilities, is Feb. 10 at Innisbrook; see … Interviews are ongoing to replace Todd Kalas (who left for Houston) on the Fox Sports Sun broadcasts. … Zac Law, who played centerfield in three seasons since being a 23rd-round pick in 2014, is being switched to catcher. … Longoria donated $100,000 toward renovations of the field at Long Beach State, where he played.

Marc Topkin can be reached at Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

Key dates

Feb. 4: Fan Fest, at Trop

Feb. 14: First workout for pitchers and catcher, Port Charlotte

Feb. 19: First full-squad workout, Port Charlotte

Feb. 24: Exhibition opener, vs. Twins, at Fort Myers

April 2: Regular-season opener, vs. Yankees, at Trop

Rays still seeking bench, bullpen help 01/21/17 [Last modified: Saturday, January 21, 2017 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs start strong vs. Jaguars


    JACKSONVILLE — On his worst pass of Thursday's preseason game against the Jaguars, Jameis Winston threw a ball from the seat of his pants toward the end zone and it appeared to be intercepted by safety Barry Church.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown of the first half on a 2-yard run, squeaking past Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter.
  2. Rays journal: Archer has strong outing, with two mistakes

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Two pitches RHP Chris Archer didn't execute are the ones that stood out Thursday as Josh Donaldson hit them out of the park. But the two solo home runs aside, Archer turned in a sterling outing that went atop the pile of good pitching the Rays keep wasting.

    Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) works during the first inning. [Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP]
  3. Tim Tebow continues wowing fans as he wraps up bay area games


    CLEARWATER — Tracey Fritzinger has seen Tim Tebow play baseball a few times this year. The 40-year-old St. Petersburg resident went to two of his games against the Tampa Yankees, along with Joy, her little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow, middle, hangs out in the dugout during Thursday night’s game against the Clearwater Threshers at Spectrum Field, the last of St. Lucie’s eight-day trip to the Tampa Bay area.
  4. Rays vs. Mariners, 7:10 Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.
  5. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The signs of frustration were readily apparent as the Rays trudged toward home Thursday after another game littered with squandered opportunities evolved into another wasted day in the wild-card race with a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays.

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter reacts as Justin Smoak circles the bases after hitting a go-ahead two-run home run in the eighth.